Corredor da Vitória
From Campo Grande onwards, Avenida Sete de Setembro is known as the Corredor da Vitória. Lined with wonderfully overgrown trees and less wonderful luxury apartment complexes, “Vitória” is where Salvador’s elite have traditionally lived. The small but economically important British community that founded this posh hood in the late 19th century and constructed some of its lavish mansions (a few of which still survive) is now home to a handful of small museums and cultural centers.
Museu de Arte da Bahia
Among the more interesting of the museums in this neighborhood is the Museu de Arte da Bahia (Av. Sete de Setembro 2340, tel. 71/3336-9450, 2–7 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 2:30–6:30 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$5, free Thurs. and Sun.), which houses a hit-and-miss collection of Bahian paintings and furnishings.
Museu Carlos Costa Pinto
In a gracious private villa that still belongs to Salvador’s traditional Costa Pinto family, the Museu Carlos Costa Pinto (Av. Sete de Setembro 2490, tel. 71/3336-6081, 2:30–7 p.m. Wed.–Mon., R$5, free Thurs.) features a rare and magnificent collection of Bahian art and artifacts that offer a glimpse into the grandeur of the Bahian elite during colonial times.
Aside from the heavy jacaranda and marble furniture, there’s a great collection of delicate Chinese porcelain as well as bric-a-brac fashioned out of precious woods, silver, gold, and ivory.
Despite the European finery, you’re likely to be most impressed by the fantastic collection of balangandans: ornate bracelets with glittery, dangling “charms” ranging from tropical fruits to figas (clenched fists symbolizing power). Made of silver and gold, these were gifts given by rich masters to their female slaves, who used them to accessorize their traditional attire of white petticoats and turbans.
After feasting your eyes, retire to the lovely courtyard Balangandan Café and savor some of the menu’s delicious French tarts.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition